Felix Salmon

August break

I’m spending this week relaxing in Sweden, taking advantage of the fact that the debt ceiling got raised to drop off the grid for a bit. So here are some things I’ve run across, in no particular order; they’re all worthy of being blogged in more detail.

Being wrong on Twitter

Earlier today, there was a flurry of activity in the media subcircle of Twitter, based on a tweet from a fake Twitter account saying that Piers Morgan had been suspended from his CNN show. It wasn’t true, as CNN rapidly said, and as Morgan himself confirmed. But various important media people, including most prominently Channel 4 News’s Jon Snow, tweeted the “news” and made it go briefly viral.

The NYT paywall is working

Back in April, I was very skeptical that the NYT would achieve its leaked goal of getting 300,000 paying digital subscribers, and I put my money where my mouth was, entering into a bet with John Gapper. John wouldn’t bet me that the NYT would get to 300,000 within a year, so we pushed it out to two years instead. But he needn’t have worried, as Seth Mnookin explains:

A few Murdoch questions

After taking phone calls about Rupert Murdoch on Brian Lehrer’s show this morning and then immediately doing an hour-long diavlog with Alex Massie on the subject, I’m beginning to get a little Murdoch-ed out. But there are three newish points that are worth raising.

Felix Salmon smackdown watch

Apologies to everybody here who would normally warrant a whole blog post of their own, but I’m way behind when it comes to catching up on the Felix Salmon smackdowns and so I’m going to clear them all out in one fell swoop, starting with:

The Murdochs pass their parliamentary trial

The biggest surprise for me, at the Murdoch hearings today, was the lack of political theater and crocodile tears of remorse. I was expecting a ceremonial piling-on — a group of politicians all jumping at a very rare opportunity to tell Rupert exactly what they thought of him, with the billionaire mogul just sitting there and taking the insults, reiterating over and over again just how very sorry he was about everything that has happened.

Could News Corp end up in play?

The increasingly-fragile nature of Rupert Murdoch’s hold on News Corp has refocused attention on its dual-class share structure. As John Gapper noted last week, such structures aren’t particularly good for minority shareholders like you or me. And if you plug today’s share price into the Breakingviews Murdoch discount calculator, you’ll see that the company is trading at roughly 30% below its fair value. Or, to put it another way, if Murdoch and his voting control were to disappear tomorrow, the shares could jump a good 45%.

Rupert Murdoch vs News Corp shareholders

Bloomberg is sounding out News Corp’s independent directors, and they’re not happy:

News Corp’s future

The abrupt departure from News Corp today of Rebekah Brooks (early) and Les Hinton (late) is yet more proof that News Corp is flailing around and incapable of getting out in front of the phone-hacking story. It’s a bit like the way in which the cost of bailing out Lehman Brothers would rise by a few billion dollars an hour at the height of the financial crisis in 2008: every day of bluster and delay just makes this crisis worse for News Corp and for Rupert Murdoch.